Silicene's Stability Shown
Carbon and silicon share many properties because they are in the same family of elements. This also means that the structures one element can form, the other likely can as well. Silicene is the silicon equivalent to graphene and now an international team of researchers has successfully demonstrated its stability in open air, as reported by the Institute of Physics.
Like graphene, silicene is an atom-thick sheet of silicon atoms in a hexagonal pattern, but it is tricky to make and can be destroyed by oxygen. To grow silicene, a silicon wafer has to be heated in a vacuum chamber, so the silicon atoms can come off of the wafer and deposit on a substrate, typically silver. If too many layers of silicene stack up, the material will degrade back into silicon, which is a more stable structure. Also if it is exposed to oxygen, the formation of the layers can be destroyed. The researchers however successfully built up 43 layers of silicene and exposed it to open air for a full day, before it degraded. It appears the oxygen in the air did react with the top layer to form a thin oxidation layer, which actually protected the stack.
The hope is that one day silicene and other 2D forms of silicon will be used in electronics. In particular the material may be used to create silicene-based MOSFETs.
Source: Institute of Physics